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Ban on Embryo Research
[Dr. Thomson's breakthrough work in stem cell research] was ineligible for public funding because of a ban placed on NIH-funded human embryo research by Congress. In 1995, Congress attached the ban to the bill appropriating funds for NIH. It has been retained in each successive appropriations bill (appropriations bills are passed annually), and until 2001, no public funding was ever provided for human ES cell research in the United States. The following is the text of the ban, originally authored in 1995 by then-Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR), as it appeared in NIH's fiscal year 2002 appropriations bill (H.R. 3061, Sec. 510):
(a) None of the funds made available in this Act may be used for--
(1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or
(2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero under 45 CFR 46.208(a)(2) and section 498(b) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 289g(b)).
(b) For purposes of this section, the term `human embryo or embryos' includes any organism, not protected as a human subject under 45 CFR 46 as of the date of the enactment of this Act, that is derived by fertilization, parthenogenesis, cloning, or any other means from one or more human gametes or human diploid cells.
Because of the great potential promised by Dr. Thomson's discovery, NIH sought legal counsel from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the application of the ban to ES cell research. In January 1999, HHS concluded that public funds could be used for research on ES cells as long as derivation of the cells--which results in the destruction of an embryo--was carried out with private funds. NIH thus began drafting guidelines governing funding for ES cell studies.
In August of last year , President Bush approved the use of federal funds to support research on a limited number of existing human embryonic stem cell lines. The decision met with notably mixed reactions. Proponents of embryonic stem cell research argue that restricting federal funding to a limited number of cell lines will hamper the progress of science, while those opposed insist that any use of cells derived from human embryos constitutes a significant breach of moral principles. It is clear that pressure to expand the limits established by the President will continue. It is equally clear that the ethical positions of those opposed to this research are unlikely to change.
Regrettably, much of the debate on this issue has taken place on emotional grounds, pitting the hope of curing heartrending medical conditions against the deeply held moral convictions of many Americans.
No one knows whether cells with similar potential exist inside female bodies — a crucial question if women, too, are to have access to new tissues genetically matched to themselves and so not susceptible to rejection by their immune systems.
Originally posted by The Parallelogram
Is it possible that cells such as these could be obtained from the ovaries of women?
Originally posted by mulberryblueshimmer
I dont know about that but apparently stem cells can be harvested from menstrual blood - which personally to me would seem like the way to go. We soak it up and throw it away anyhow, why not use it for stem cells?
But previous claims, including the purported discovery of such cells in everything from menstrual blood to bone marrow to fat, have suffered from incomplete evidence or have proved to be impractical.